RESULTS OF TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FOR STRENGTHENING OF INSTITUTIONAL CAPABILITIES IN MANAGEMENT OF E-LEARNING PROGRAMS IN COLOMBIAN HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
The aim of this paper is to present the results of the technical assistance service–TAS of the Colombian Ministry of National Education–MNE, which was performed through the National Academic Network of Advanced Technology, a.k.a. RENATA, applied over several Higher Education Institutions–HEI. The TAS is a strengthening institutional strategy whose purpose is to consolidate the capabilities of production, management and usage of technologies for offering of academic programs of e-learning, both undergrad and grad. This strengthening impacts the improvement of organizational, technological and pedagogical capabilities of the university. Noteworthy that TAS not directly supports the formulation of e-learning academic programs, since it is an autonomous action of HEI. In Colombia, e-learning, a.k.a. virtual or online education, was regulate by Act 1188/2008, by Decree 1295/2010 and it is defined as “the educative process of teaching and learning in a different place to the classroom, it is the cyberspace, without need that the teachers and students are present, and a temporality which could be synchronic or asynchronous, where, telematics networks are established as their main environment” according to the document of guidelines for virtual education in higher education institutions elaborated by MNE. Although the e-learning was defined during the period 2006-2010, the e-learning offer in 2002 already had six academic programs, which was increasing each year such as was presented by the Observatory of Colombian University, where to 2010 recorded 199 e-learning programs, to 2012 recorded 265 and to 2013 recorded 344.
The TAS was done through:
i) Selection of HEI,
ii) Face and online meetings of consulting and monitoring,
For this process, four frameworks were addressed:
i) organizational: which articulates several university departments (direction, management, planning, quality and budget) to generate transverse conditions that forge membership in all areas of HEI, in order to promote the e-learning development;
ii) pedagogic: which allows to articulate the e-learning modality (didactic-curricula) with institutional educative plan in order to make an innovative, coherent and consistent proposal according to HEI needs, the market and the country;
iii) communicative: which are the efforts to promote the recognition of e-learning modality, with the purpose to strengthen the interaction and facilitate the access to the knowledge, which allows the appropriation by users in terms of quality and success of the programs and their components; and
iv) technologic: which articulates the potential of HEI for the development, implementation and the usage of flexible and scalable technologies, in terms of infrastructure, connectivity, platforms or services in order to support the e-learning modality.
The integration and transversality of frameworks allowed organizing, training and measuring the advance of HEI, which facilitated the development of institutional proposals of e-learning. The main conclusions highlight that the knowledge transfer given by the team of expert advisors from MNE is a key factor to improve the university competiveness. The technological framework had the higher progress in Colombian HEI. Also, it is necessary to have real support from the directives of HEI to assign temporal, financial, human and technological resources to harness the TAS provided from MNE and be able to formulate e-learning programs of quality.